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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-02-01

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, February 1, 2000


  • [01] Annan hopes for settlement this year
  • [02] Bourse plunges another five per cent
  • [03] Three still critical after deadly mountain bus crash
  • [04] Bomb found outside Larnaca brokerage
  • [05] Doctors’ strike cut short after government assurances
  • [06] Cultural facelift for Nicosia
  • [07] Greece supplies Cyprus with new batch of weapons
  • [08] Old Pasidy site spotlights cross-section of Nicosia history

  • [01] Annan hopes for settlement this year

    UN SECRETARY-general Kofi Annan yesterday kicked off the second round of Cyprus proximity talks in Geneva and said he hoped for a settlement by the end of the year.

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, however, reversed his earlier conciliatory tone and diluted some of Annan's optimism, insisting, as ever, on international recognition of his breakaway regime as a ‘state’ as a precondition of any solution.

    Annan was speaking to reporters after meeting both Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides.

    "We are working towards a comprehensive settlement in the course of the year. I think we can achieve it if we all work hard enough and come into the discussions with a spirit of give and take and the right mood," he said.

    "I hope that after this round (of talks) we will come back early summer to continue the process" in a third round of talks. "I hope from there on, we will make a sustained and determined effort to achieve a comprehensive settlement."

    Annan spoke after opening the second round of UN-sponsored proximity talks with Clerides and Denktash in two months. A first round was held in New York in December.

    The talks, expected to last 10 days, will see Annan's Special Advisor Alvaro de Soto speaking separately with Clerides and Denktash; neither leader is expected to talk with the other face-to-face.

    Sources, who declined identification, told the Cyprus News Agency that US President Bill Clinton was personally interested and intervening to ensure that sustained and intensive efforts would begin in May with a view to a framework agreement towards a Cyprus settlement.

    Annan said yesterday the parties in the second round of talks were "discussing all the core issues and issues which are important to any of the parties." This, he added, "is fine with us."

    Clerides told reporters the four core issues on the agenda were the distribution of powers, security, territory and property.

    Denktash said there were three more core issues -- equality, independence and - his leitmotif precondition: international recognition of 'statehood' of his breakaway regime.

    Annan acknowledged Denktash had raised the extra issues, but said: "All issues are on the table. We are encouraging them to come to the table to discuss these issues without any preconditions and work with us until we find a solution."

    Annan finessed the question of whether Denktash might get his wish for "state" status for his breakaway regime, saying only: "We are in a process... We never know where we will end, what the outcome will be, and I cannot prejudge the outcome of the negotiations."

    Denktash was more definite, declaring: "If you believe that, on the basis of the existence of a Greek Cypriot Republic, there will be a settlement, you are dreaming."

    "Of course there will be progress" in the current talks, he said, but then denied carrying any new ideas to Geneva, noting: "The Cyprus problem is an old problem. It does not need any new ideas."

    Instead, he said, it "needs a sincere approach to solve the problem. It needs realism (for) a very, very effective settlement." One of those realities is "very obvious," he said: "There are two states in Cyprus, two national people who have been ruling themselves for 36 years."

    "The existence of the Turkish Cypriot state has to be accepted, and then we will build bridges" to the Republic of Cyprus, he said.

    The tone of Denktash's remarks yesterday and their return to his "state recognition" refrain departed from the tenor of his remarks at the weekend, when he told the Turkish Cypriot daily Kibris that a Cyprus solution could be achieved in a matter of months.

    "I cannot say if it will be in three or five months time," he told Kibris, "but the Cyprus problem will be solved by talks and not weapons, and the solutions will not be long."

    Facing elections in April at home, Denktash may have been playing to his voters by reviving his two-state precondition, which involves a confederation of two separate states instead of the UN proposal for a bizonal, bicommunal federal state as the Cyprus solution.

    Turkey yesterday issued an official statement of support for Denktash’s demand for ‘state’ recognition and a confederal Cyprus solution.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [02] Bourse plunges another five per cent

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE CYPRUS bourse had its second worst day this year when share prices plunged 5.02 per cent, weighed down by small cap shares and small investors who moved out in an effort to minimise their losses.

    Building on a weak opening, the benchmark index had 20.37 points trimmed on a wave of selling, which sent tourism, investment and commercial shares into freefall, losing more than eight per cent in their respective sectors.

    Volumes were at a low £16.6 million on 3,050 trades as the market negotiated a band ranging between 583.98 and 563.22, the session's intraday highest and lowest points.

    Blue-chip bank stocks outperformed the broad market, minimizing losses to the all-share index with a 2.17 per cent decline.

    After slipping below the 600 support level on Friday, one floor trader said testing a resistance of 550 might be next.

    Yesterday's session brings total losses for the month of January to around 20 per cent, a decline which brokers said was quite sharp regardless of the 700 per cent jump in prices on the market for the whole of last year.

    The last heavy loss recorded on the bourse was on January 10, when prices tumbled 9.5 per cent.

    Market sources said the market was still suffering from a liquidity squeeze which had, by yesterday, absorbed more than one billion pounds from the market since mid-December.

    They said that the bourse's decision to toss out Universal Life and a looming rift between the church and the state on the Cyprus problem was also creating a heavy climate.

    "In themselves, they are nothing. When you put them together it translates into five per cent," said one fund manager.

    Traders said that small investors were doing most of the selling, with institutional investors sitting on the sidelines.

    "Investors should remain calm and not cash in on shares which have prospects of a swift rebound," broker Vassily Spanos of National Bank (Investments) told reporters.

    "There is a heightened risk of spasmodic moves," he added.

    Traders have repeatedly urged clients to be prudent and not get carried away by a wave of selling. "They tend not to take advice," another broker said.

    Some traders were philosophical about the situation. "The beauty of the market are its ups and downs," said broker Nicos Efrem.

    But there were some angry exchanges at the end of the session between brokers and some investors, who demanded to know why their investments were falling.

    Some said they would boycott today's session and hold a protest outside the bourse building. "This is ridiculous," said one investor who bought £4,000 worth of Bank of Cyprus shares for £13.00 at the end of November. Yesterday, Bank of Cyprus closed at £9.00, sliding 40 cents on a volume of 252,401 shares.

    In the rest of the banking sector, nine cents was snipped off the Cyprus Popular Bank on a turnover of 97,319 shares and 18 off Hellenic Bank, where 163,907 shares were traded.

    Universal, which was trading for the last day before delisting, had £1.00 knocked off its price to bow out at £18.50.

    The board of the stock exchange were due to de-list the firm because it was unable to comply with regulations for at least 25 per cent of equity to be free-floated.

    Louis Cruise Lines, which has a heavy buy recommendation on it by a number of brokerages, was off 15 cents to £2.40. It topped volume ranks with 869, 308 shares changing hands.

    Bourse Briefs * Share Link Financial Services said yesterday its board would meet on February 11 to examine preliminary results of the group for 1999.

    *Orphanides Supermarkets will discuss a possible share split, increase in equity and 1999 results at a board meeting on February 15.

    * CyVenture Capital will review 1999 results at a board meeting on February 11.

    * Leda Investments and Triana Investments will review 1999 results at separate board meetings on February 10.

    * Betting chain Glory Leisure Holdings yesterday posted preliminary 1999 pre-tax profits of £523,961, over £359,993 in 1998. Turnover was up 54.70 per cent in the year under review. The firm, which runs 24 betting shops, said the business climate for this year was good. It said it expected an increase in profitability and turnover from the Euro 2000 football competition this summer.

    * Computer vendors Logicom said they had signed an agreement to buy out computer communications providers Solatherm Electrotelecoms in a deal worth £1,282.500

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [03] Three still critical after deadly mountain bus crash

    By Martin Hellicar

    THREE people were still in a critical condition yesterday after a horrific mini-bus crash in the Troodos mountains on Sunday evening. Six people, including a three-year-old boy, were killed when the bus smashed into a concrete barrier on a sharp bend in the road between Platres and Moniatis at 4.15pm.

    Twelve other people have lost their lives in accidents on the same turn in the steep mountain road, known locally as "Death bend," since 1983.

    The minibus was taking a group of 36 mostly Filipino day-trippers, with seven children among them, back down to Larnaca after a day out in the snow.

    The small bus slammed into the six-foot high concrete crash barrier and then overturned before skidding some 200 metres down the road. Bodies were strewn across the narrow road and survivors had to be cut out of the wreckage.

    Only three passengers escaped injury in the deadly smash, one of the worst on the island in recent years.

    Police experts were yesterday poring over the mangled remains of the mini- bus in search of clues as to what had caused the accident.

    Limassol police chief Charalambos Koulendis said it was "too early" for "specific conclusions" but confirmed that investigators were focusing their attention on the vehicle's brakes. Witnesses reported seeing smoke and sparks coming from the mini-bus's tyres as it neared the bend, suggesting the brakes had overheated.

    The owners of the Larnaca company that hired out the bus made a statement to police yesterday.

    The driver of the fatal mini-bus, 40-year-old Costas Zypitis, from Aradippou outside Larnaca, was still recovering in hospital yesterday, along with 22 of the 30 other people injured in the smash.

    Koulendis said three of the injured were in a critical condition at Nicosia general hospital, suffering from skull fractures. One of the critical patients is a twelve-year-old girl, Felix Karpasitis.

    Police released the names of four of the casualties yesterday. They are 40- year-old Elena Pattane, 27-year-old Sherill Rosales Villospas and 41-year- old Maria Luisa Cadielte, all from the Philippines, and three-year-old Stelios Andrea Hadjipavlou, from Larnaca. The Filipino mother of three-year- old Stelios was among those hurt in the crash.

    The names of the other two dead, Filipino men aged 30 and 40, were not released yesterday because police had not yet managed to contact their families.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou visited the crash site yesterday afternoon. The mukhtar of Moniatis, Dimos Georgiou, insisted the only solution was to straighten out the deadly bend in the road.

    Neophytou promised the government would find a solution and suggested buses and lorries might be banned from the Platres to Moniatis road as a temporary measure.

    The concrete barrier the mini-bus hit was built in 1990 after a British army truck plunged off the tight bend and down a cliff, killing eight British soldiers.

    Seven years earlier, in 1983, a school bus fell into a crevasse off the same bend. Four students from Limassol were killed.

    An eyewitness to Sunday's accident yesterday gave his harrowing account to CyBC radio. One of the first on the scene of the crash, he described how he and others stood by helpless and shocked, not knowing how to help the many injured.

    He said it was "far too long" before ambulances got to the scene, a claim denied by the authorities.

    The eyewitness said he had come face-to-face with the mother of the three- year-old killed in the crash.

    "There was a mother with a child - which turned out to be dead - in her arms. She was shouting, asking for help, crying, praying. She was saying the Lord's prayer in English and telling Christ: `You took so long to give it (the child) to me; I asked for it for years; You gave it to me, late, and now that I can't have another child You take it back?' She was moving the child's head, trying to make it recover. When I went close I was sure it was dead, but she continued to try."

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [04] Bomb found outside Larnaca brokerage

    A BOMB was found yesterday morning at the entrance of Sharelink brokerage office in Larnaca.

    The office belongs to the chairman of the brokers association Christodoulos Ellinas.

    An employee found the explosive device on his way into work, hidden in a bag at the entrance of the office on the fourth floor of the Orphanides commercial centre at General Timayias Avenue.

    He called the police, who sealed off the centre until the bomb squad arrived from Nicosia.

    Bomb experts said they found two half-pound pieces of TNT along with a detonator and fuse.

    Police said the device had been set-off, but had failed to blow up.

    The bomb was taken to police labs for further testing.

    The Cyprus Stock Exchange has over recent months been the target of several bomb threats, which proved to be hoaxes.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [05] Doctors’ strike cut short after government assurances

    By Athena Karsera

    GOVERNMENT doctors yesterday cut short their strike action after the Health Minister assured them he did not agree with "insulting" Watchdog Committee statements about the doctors.

    Minister Frixos Savvides also put forward a proposal for the introduction of an on-call system at state hospitals with doctors sleeping at hospital residence halls and being paid per work performed outside hours.

    The Committee last Thursday began discussion on allegations that doctors conspired to ensure that their colleagues could perform non-emergency surgery during overtime hours.

    The issue arose when the Committee reviewed a report by Auditor-general Chrystalla Yiorkatzi.

    The report revealed that at one hospital, two specific operations were only carried out on weekends and public holidays, when the surgeons were paid overtime.

    The doctors reacted furiously, with the president of their union Pasiky, Dr Stavros Stavrou, saying "claims that imply a large number of doctors are stealing from the public with the rest covering for them insult us."

    Yesterday’s strike began at 8am and had been due to continue until 11, but was cut short by an hour after a meeting between Savvides and representatives from Pasiky ended in agreement.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting, Savvides said, "The entire issue is over... The system is changing. There will be an on-call system introduced which was accepted by Pasiky and the other interested parties. Doctors will sleep at the hospital and will be there and be paid a certain amount every time they work while on call. The matter now rests with the Finance Ministry, which will decide on the compensation paid."

    Savvides also assured the doctors that he did not share the opinion of members of the Watchdog Committee that some doctors were abusing public funds.

    Pasiky vice-president Dr Petros Petrides said the doctors had been satisfied by the outcome of the meeting, but did not rule out further action.

    Petrides said, "The object and goal of the strike was for us to express our serious discontent about what was said at the Committee."

    He said the Committee's charges could not be backed up and that, "By February 14, we will have the final passage of the agreements which will put an end to the problem... on overtime."

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [06] Cultural facelift for Nicosia

    By Martin Hellicar

    EDUCATION Minister Ouranios Ioannides has promised to give the island a cultural facelift, with the building of a state gallery, state library and state concert hall.

    The funds for the building programme will come mostly from the Makarios III charitable foundation, the director of the Education Ministry's Cultural services, Stelios Hadjistilis, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    The Popular Bank was offering to fund construction of a state concert hall, Hadjistilis said.

    On Sunday, Ioannides said the European Union and the state would foot part of the bill for the new facilities. Building work would begin in the very near future, the Minister stated.

    But Hadjistilis emphasised yesterday that plans were still at an early stage.

    He said a draft agreement for construction of a multi-cultural centre (to include a state gallery, library and lecture theatre) was about to be agreed with the Makarios III foundation. But he added that it would be "one, two or three years" before the project was completed.

    The multi-cultural centre is to be built in Nicosia's Aglandja area, near the studios of state broadcaster CyBC.

    Land in the GSP area in central Nicosia has been earmarked for the state concert hall.

    If not as optimistic as Ioannides about how soon the projects would materialise, Hadjistilis certainly appeared convinced the cultural facelift would take place.

    "It is certain that it will happen, I hope and feel it will," he told the Mail. "I know Ioannides and he is determined to do this and has the strength to see it through."

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [07] Greece supplies Cyprus with new batch of weapons

    GREECE has supplied Cyprus with self-propelled artillery and additional TOR- M1 missile systems, a Greek newspaper reported on Sunday.

    According to Kathimerini, Greece has supplied the National Guard with 12 Slovakian-made Suzana 155mm self-propelled artillery units, together with an undisclosed number of additional TOR-M1 short-range anti-aircraft missile systems.

    The first two TORs were exhibited during the Independence Day parade in October last year.

    The reports also claim that Greece had given Cyprus a lightly armed navy patrol boat, the second in the island's arsenal.

    Asked to confirm the reports, Defence Minister Socratis Hasikos said he did not want to comment on the issue.

    "Neither the government nor I wish to make public statements on issues concerning defence, especially if they involve arms procurement," he said.

    Military experts have in the past deemed the Slovak artillery system unreliable and problematic.

    However, military sources in Athens stressed that after several trials the glitches had been fixed, claiming it was now one of the most reliable artillery systems in the world.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2000

    [08] Old Pasidy site spotlights cross-section of Nicosia history

    THE DEPARTMENT of Antiquities has announced the completion of the 1999 excavations at St. George's Hill, opposite the Interior Ministry at Demosthenis Severis Avenue in Nicosia.

    Archaeological remains were found when work began on the new House of Representatives at the old Pasidy site on the hill. The House plans were eventually abandoned because of the archaeological value of the findings.

    Seventh century Byzantine coins found at the site indicated the presence of a church in the early Christian period and emphasize the continuous use of the hill as a sacred place of worship, from the Archaic period into the Christian era.

    Burial sites of infants, children, and adults were excavated, which are expected to yield useful information on the population of Ledra (Nicosia) from the early Christian period to the 16th century and even later, as well as on the burial customs of these periods.

    Among the most important burials found are two bodies within a stone sarcophagus, located outside the north wall of the church.

    The lid was broken and had fallen in, but without damaging the two skeletons inside, possibly buried in quick succession.

    In the upper layers of the site a cannon ball and several lead bullets were found, suggesting the area was used by the invading Ottoman army during the siege of Nicosia in 1570, as suggested by contemporary texts.

    It is thought the latest church on the site could have been among those demolished by the Venetians for the construction of the current Nicosia walls in the sixteenth century. The Venetians pulled down the rambling mediaeval walls, diverted the Pediaios river, and destroyed all buildings outside the current star-shaped walls to improve the defence of the city from the impending Ottoman threat.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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